Based on the Future Scenarios book by permaculturalist David Holmgren, the Earth Steward scenario assumes a peaking and subsequent collapse of carbon-based energy and a resulting reduction in carbon-emissions.
In this scenario, communities return to significantly more localized economies, collaborative networks, and simpler living, including local food systems, local energy, and human-powered transit. This scenario most closely resembles the vision of permaculture and advocates a more creative “energy descent” rather than a rapid collapse.
Students in the Natural History of the Black River course at Oberlin College created this mosaic of images of a day in the life of an Earth Steward future. With camera angles focused mostly on hands and legs, the film emphasizes a return to human-powered systems, including bikes, organic gardens, compost, and homemade meals savored around the table. The scenario also features alternative economic systems, represented two people bartering yarn for garden vegetables that get turned into the meal featured later in the film. There is still some energy use, as represented by the gas stove that could be powered off of methane captured from aerobically composting organic wastes.
This scenario embodies several initiatives already at play in Oberlin around campus-based food production and local food systems.